Tag Archives: freedom from fear

Seeds planted, with high expectations for the harvest!

I love to garden – to slip on my gloves and green rubber boots, and get out there to play in the dirt.  Especially in the spring, when gardening energies run high.  The blackberry patch invites me in to cut back last years fruit vines, and stake the canes that will bear this summer.  My Weigela is already budding out and is sure to be overtaken with blooms by late June.  And this year, I am absolutely certain I have cracked the code for a high-producing vegetable garden.  The seeds are planted, and I am anticipating a bounty large enough to keep my daughters and their families fully stocked with berries and vegetables for most of the summer.

But I like gardening for more than just the fruits and vegetables.  I like it because it reminds me of two beloved passages that have transformed my life.

Luke 8:11-15
“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

 

Faith Like A Seed
My “Faith Like A Seed” craft project (summer vacation 2011)

Mark 4:26-29
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.
  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.

In these two passages, I’m reminded that the Word of God is a like a seed that a farmer plants into the soil of his heart, which if it is held onto and tended will produce of its own kind.   In other words, just like those Kentucky Pole Bean seeds I planted are guaranteed to sprout green bean and not orange trees, I can be certain that all those “Word-of-God Seeds” that I have planted into my heart over the course of my lifetime, and most especially over the last few years, will produce for me from the type of seed sown.   It’s the way the Kingdom of God works, just like Jesus said it works.

And so as I carefully planted my zucchini, green beans, beets and other veggie seeds a few weeks back, I was also reminded of the “Healing Seeds” I’ve got in the ground for the healing and full restoration of family members.  Oh, and over there, I’ve got some “Provision Seeds” for financial blessing upon my income and retirement accounts.   I’ve even got me some “Husband Seed” planted, and I’m waiting in faith for that godly man to come along.

And guess what!  The “Career Seed” I planted two years ago is just about to start producing fruit, just like those berry vines will later this summer.   Yes indeed, for two years I’ve been callin’ in my harvest for that ‘perfect, well paying, and satisfying job’ to manifest … and in May 2014, after months of prayer and multiple confirmations from the Lord, I launched my own small business!   Turns out my perfect job wasn’t one that someone else was going to give to me, but one that the Lord Himself called me to create.   I’m a small business owner! 

Friend, if you’ve got some “Word of God Seed” in the ground … don’t give up on it!  Keep on tending to it by making sure you keep those ‘pesky critters’ of doubt and fear out of your garden and off of your seed.  And keep your seed watered, by continually reminding yourself of His faithfulness to you, and His faithfulness to His Word .

It may not look like anything is happening right now … but you can’t see all that’s going on underneath the ground.  So keep taking care of your seed, and believe (trust in) God.  With faith, patience, and a little TLC … that seed will produce!

Blessings,

Jenny

 

The nightmare and the warrior

I have spoken a little about my past in other posts (under the Fear Not category).  Perhaps not in great detail, but I have not kept silent out of shame.  I know full well that my past does not define me,  neither shall I allow it dictate the course of my life – present nor future.  This non-negotiable fact is born out of the revelation of my true identity, and I bless God for walking me through the difficult journey from victim – to survivor – to victor!

That is not to say that I don’t still face challenges today that are a result (direct or indirect) of my past.  I do, but there has been so much healing and transformation during the last 20 years, that most days I give no thought to either my childhood or the abuse of my marriage.

But there are days …. or more accurately, there are nights.  Last night was one.

Provided by Dez Pain
Provided by Dez Pain

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had nightmares.   As a very small child, I had recurring dreams of a stick-figured man who hovered over me at night, of hands that reached through walls and from under the bed to grab me, of knives that pointed at me throughout the night, threatening the safety of my bed.  Even while those dreams provided a form of protection, they terrified me and influenced me deeply for decades.

Other childhood dreams mystified and thrilled me.  In my favorite dream, I would head over to the side yard of the house, reach my hands up like Superman and start kicking like a swimmer  .. and in no time at all, I would have lift off!  Once off the ground, my arms would reach out to the side, and my continued kicking would propel me higher and higher – up over the house, soaring high over neighboring streets, daringly maneuvering in between power lines and tree branches and an occasional airplane.  I found freedom in those dreams.

As I grew older, other dreams emerged. These dreams seem to be some sort of ‘cloaked remembrance’, a strange mixture of past and present.  Besides the content of these dreams, what sets them apart is the feeling that comes with them.  I imagine it is similar to a drug induced state, and it is sometimes a challenge for me to wake from them.  But about 20 years ago while living in California, I met a wonderful woman who had a similar past, and her testimony of transformation had a huge impact on my life.  As she prayed for and discipled me, greater breakthrough came, and eventually those dreams stopped.  For a season.  About 12 years ago, they started again.

Mighty WarriorI remember calling my Pastor one morning after a particularly brutal night.  I sobbed as I told him how completely violated I felt, victimized all over again as these dreams come upon me when I am asleep and completely without the ability to protect or defend myself.   I shall be forever grateful for his quick but loving correction.

Then he proceeded to teach me that I am not without defense, even when I am asleep.

And that, my dear reader, is the purpose for my writing this post.  There is no life (no life-giving impact) in simply telling you about a strange dream or new spiritual attack I experienced last night.  But there can be life-giving impact by sharing with you, as I believe I have been instructed by the Lord to do, the breakthrough I have experienced by learning how to sleep under cover.

Or more accurately, by learning how to sleep under the covering!

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.  Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.  My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.  (Psalm 63:6-8)

So for the next post or two, I will be sharing with you what my Pastor shared with me, and how implementing these practices has trained me up to be a mighty warrior of God and has given me greater victory over all the attacks of the enemy-of-my-soul … even in the wee hours of the night.  I hope you will join me, and be blessed by it.

Until then, sleep in peace!

Jenny

But God

I recently attended a fund raiser for women in crisis and watched a video in which several young women shared their stories of abandonment, abuse, and failed relationships.   My heart ached for each woman, and my mothers heart wanted so very badly to be able to give them a long and comforting embrace.    Thankfully, their individual stories are gradually being transformed on a day-by-day basis.

And listening to the stories of these brave women reminded me of my own.  I don’t often stop to think about it, but every so often I’m reminded of the girl I once was.

It took me a long time to get to this place of understanding, but I now know that the people who inflicted the most pain on my young soul were each dealing with their own family histories and experiences as best as they could.  The truth is, when you put broken and wounded people together in a relationship – you usually get a big ol’ mess that often spills out onto others.   I should know, because for a long time, I was broken and wounded … a big ol’ mess just waiting for a place to happen.

And happen I did.   Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, from my current vantage point I can practically pinpoint the precise moment when the wheels first came off the track.  It was during my early teen years, when while watching my parents play penny poker in the kitchen with the neighbors, I came to the brilliant conclusion that all my personal pain and sadness would be solved … by getting married.

Photo by nazreth (RGBStock)
Photo by nazreth (RGBStock)

When I got married, I would have a voice.

When I got married, I would be loved unconditionally.

When I got married, life would be full of roses and lollipops, and we would live happily ever after.

Honestly, I don’t even know where that came from – because my parent’s marriage wasn’t exactly the model of perfection.  But in any case, that’s what I thought, and so as soon as I got old enough to date – I started looking for my future husband.  I met him at 14 1/2.  He was my 2nd boyfriend, and he was almost 4 years older than me.   We married shortly after my 18th birthday.   I’ll give you one guess how that turned out.

I divorced a few years later, and at 21 years old I took another spin on the wheel-of-marriage.  Not a wise move, because all the pain and desperation I felt growing up (and thought marriage would somehow fix) was now multiplied exponentially … making me a prime candidate for the type of man they write country songs about (and not the good kind of country songs).  I stayed in that marriage just shy of 10 years.  It was almost my undoing.

There is a little tiny phrase in the Bible that I love to read.  BUT GOD.

BUT GOD had other plans for my life.  BUT GOD interceded.  BUT GOD rescued.  BUT GOD healed.  BUT GOD transformed me from the inside out and completely changed the trajectory of my life.  BUT GOD!!

Yes, the lives of those dear girls are being transformed on a day-by-day basis, just like mine was and continues to be … all because of those two little words.

Are you in need of a BUT GOD moment?  Drop me a note or post a comment below and I’ll be happy to pray for you.

Blessings,

Jenny

 

911 (Part 2) – When The Enemy Is At The Door

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this post.  Thankfully, it turned out that my imagination was the enemy that day.  But not all my enemies have been imaginary, and a few of them have been terrifying.

My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me.  Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.  I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest.  I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”  (Psalm 55:4-8)

There have been times when I’ve found myself standing toe-to-toe against an enemy that (seemingly) had every advantage over me.  I am reminded of a small apartment, and a summer afternoon about 20 years ago.  I had a restraining order against him, and yet there he was – on the doorstep, trying to kick-in the door while screaming horrific things.  I had dared to stand up against him, and he was livid … and I was near paralyzed with fear!

TERROR:  a very strong feeling of fear

TYRANNY:  cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others

OPPRESSION: unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power

I yelled back that I was calling the police.  Whether I did, or didn’t, I can’t recall.  I do remember sinking to the floor and curling up into ball, wishing I could somehow just disappear. But instead of disappearing, from somewhere deep within spoke a stronger voice (the voice of Himself, my Lord and my God), telling me to GET UP! To STAND UP!

This is a challenging post to write, but perhaps not for the reasons you think.  Sure, when I pause to reflect on darker days, I’m somewhat saddened by the life I had back then.  But praise God, I’m not that woman anymore, so it’s not the memory of those days that makes this a challenging subject.  It’s the awareness that you, the reader of this post, might at this very moment be under a full-on attack by your worst enemy (flesh-and-blood, or spiritual).   Or perhaps you have fought and have emerged the other side of a battle (physical, emotional, or spiritual), and now bear the wounds and scars from all that was inflicted upon you during the fight.   In either case, here you are – reading this post.  And that, beloved, deserves reverence in my writing.

Spiritually speaking, we all have an enemy that is constantly trying to ‘take us out’, and the simple truth is that the more of a threat you are to him, the more vicious and strategic his attack.

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cushand Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you..     (Isaiah 43:1-4a)

I’ve been blessed to know several spirituals “Oaks” in my life, men and women whose faith is unshakable and can face even the most violent storms of life with barely a blink of the eye.  These are the people I like to surround myself with, and these are the people I turn to for comfort and support when I’m facing an impending fight or am battle-weary during a long and drawn out conflict where victory seems to be elusive.

Now back to my story.  At that point in time, my enemy (who I now realize was not my ex, but the evil that was controlling him) seemed so much bigger than I was capable of dealing with.  And in truth, he was – which is why I’m so grateful that all God asked me to do at that very moment was to GET UP and STAND!

And so I got up.  I took a stand.  And my God stood with me!

Was I still afraid? Absolutely. Did things change overnight? No. Was I wounded in the battle?  Yes, but healing has come and I am now a more skilled warrior as a result of the battle experience.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and his powerful strength. Put on God’s armor so that you can make a stand against the tricks of the devil. We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens. Therefore, pick up the full armor of God so that you can stand your ground on the evil day and after you have done everything possible to still stand. So stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. Above all, carry the shield of faith so that you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.  (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Armor of God
Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)

In this broken world, you and I will encounter many trials and be called to battle against the enemy many times.   We may suffer some hard hits in the warfare; let us fight on. We may be tempted to ease up off that territory we were trying to overtake, considering it better/safer/saner to find contentedness in dry valleys than to press on to conquer farer pasture lands; let us press on.  We may be so terrified of our foe that we can barely manage to keep a grip on our weaponry; let us then STAND!  

Let us be found STANDING!   Snot-nosed but STANDING!  Weak-kneed but STANDING!   Bug-eyed but suited up in the Armor of God, and STANDING!  It’s His Armor we are wearing, and He is in the battle with us.  If we will be obedient to follow the instructions He gives, then when the dust finally settles – we can be assured we will be found STILL STANDING!

And that is how we grow from acorn to Oak, by standing and standing and standing until those roots-of-faith grow so deep and so strong that we then become a place of solace and refuge for others during their storms.

The song ‘OCEANS (Where Feet May Fail)’ by Hillsong UNITED beautifully describes the mystery of walking by faith when moving into deep waters.

When the storms of life come, may our roots prove deep!

Blessings,
Jenny

Who Am I? (part 2)

When I was a girl, we had 4 fruit trees growing in the front yard. Since I was the youngest of 7 kids, guess who always got stuck picking up the rotten fruit that fell off the trees …  ME!

One day, while picking up rotten fruit, two kids from down the block came by and picked a few apples off one of the trees.  My behavior was terrible – I can admit that now!   But at the time, the only thing going through my 8 year old head was – that was MY fruit, and they were stealing it!

Of course, it wasn’t really my fruit.  It was my dad who worked day after day to pay for that house we lived in.  He mowed the lawn, he tended the trees, and he was the rightful owner of the fruit they bore.   But as my father’s daughter, what is his is also mine.   And so when someone steals from my father, they are also stealing from me.

I acted in response to the knowledge of who I was … daughter of the owner of the property, and rightful heir of all that was his.   I pelted them with over-ripe oranges.  (Oh the shame of that admission! LOL)

The same applies to you and me today. 

As our Father’s children, what is His is also ours!

For those of us who have been “adopted” into the family of God, what belongs to our Heavenly Father also belongs to us!   And we need to stop letting the voices of this world define our worth and value as people, and instead – let God tell us of our identity, of who we are, and who we were created to be!

As a young girl, my identity was shaped by the voices of people who told me I didn’t measure up.  I felt unwanted and unloved, with no voice, no choice, and no power.  As I grew into a woman, I repeatedly chose men who also treated me badly – because in the secret places of my heart, I didn’t believe I could expect any better.  But my life began to radically change when I began to listen to Gods voice telling me who I was.

Beloved, when you correctly understand your identity in Christ, who you are – and what is yours (the power, the authority, the dignity, the calling) as children of the Living God – it will change the way you think about yourself.  And that “right standing” will change the choices you make on a daily basis, and will ultimately change the course of your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren.

And it all starts with how you answer the question “WHO AM I?”

(since 2011, Matthew West has put out a wonderful song entitled “Hello, My Name Is“.  Take a listen and start singing about your true Identity!)

Who Am I
Who Am I